Tag Archives: children

Building Resiliency in Children

Building Resiliency in Children

Written by: Jenn Vanetten

Children may experience obstacles and stressors that are difficult to overcome. Test failure, bullying, loss or incarceration of a friend or family member or divorcing parents may be a few of the hardships that they could face. Although such adverse events are a negative life experience, they also provide opportunities for children to build the skills – or resiliency – they will need to bounce back from hard times. 

What is Resiliency
Resiliency develops in individuals as they learn to work through challenges and cope with life stress in a healthy manner; it is the ability to recover after times of difficult adjustment, painful losses or failures. Resilience is not a trait that individuals either do or do not have. It develops through experience. 

What Does Resiliency in Children Look Like?
• Children that are more resilient may persist to improve at an art or sport, while less resilient children may give up an activity when it is not going well.
More resilient children may earn a low grade on a test and work harder to understand the content while less resilient children may give up on learning the content. 
More resilient children may handle the loss of a loved one by grieving with family members, whereas less resilient children may isolate themselves and fall into deep sadness. 

Why is Resiliency Important?
Helping a child to develop resiliency earlier in their development will help them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. 

Children with greater resiliency are more likely to:
• Succeed academically 
• Develop and maintain healthy relationships with peers and family
• Identify activities that bring enjoyment
• Overcome feelings of frustration and sadness

How can Adults Foster Resiliency in Children?
• Allow room for mistakes 
When a child is struggling to complete a task, it may seem easier to do it for them. Instead, let them attempt to do it on their own and praise their efforts rather than the completion of the task. This will help them to focus on the positive elements of difficult experiences. 
• Encourage independence
When a child falls down, make sure they are okay and then encourage them to pick themselves up. Soothe them if needed. Independence enhances a child’s confidence in their ability to overcome difficult experiences.  
• Show gratitude 
Consistently expressing emotions such as love and gratitude can help children to develop positive feelings toward others and life experiences. Children should be praised more often than they are criticized. 
• Express all emotions 
It is essential for children to learn how to label and express all emotions so they are better able to communicate how they feel in difficult times. It may be helpful to explain your feelings verbally to your child as well as your process for recovering emotionally.  
• Model a healthy lifestyle
Healthy eating habits, regular exercise and a good sleep routine all help fuel the body for being resilient in difficult times. Help children to develop healthy habits! 

For more ideas on how to foster resilience in children:
The Seven Ingredients of Resilience: Information for Parents

Promoting Cultural Development and Understanding in Children

Celebrate Our World – Country: Ethiopia

Promoting Cultural Development and Understanding in Children

Written by: Rachele Gentry

Children are curious. Why? What? How? The questions sometimes seem never-ending. Curiosity is vital, but what about the curious questions that provoke an awkward encounter? “Mom, why does that girl look that way?” Teaching and talking about diversity early on can provide children with answers to these questions, without the awkward encounters. 

What is Culture and Race?
Culture refers to the unique characteristics of a specific group: language, religion, food, social norms, music and arts. While culture generally stems from ethnicity, where one’s family originates, race is associated with biology, or one’s physical characteristics.  

Cultural Awareness of Others
Around six months of age, babies show preference for people of the same race. Although biases may begin at an early age, research shows that when children, as young as pre-school, learn about and interact with people of diverse cultures, rates of implicit racial biases decrease. There are several ways to promote racial harmony and decrease implicit racial biases for young children. The most important thing is to be positive and do not shame your child for asking tough questions. Children are never too young to talk about race. 

• Children learn a vast majority through watching others, especially their parents
• Model an accepting attitude towards all people
• Have conversations about why people look, dress or speak differently in a positive manner

Promote Interracial Friendships
• Be aware of who your child’s friends are and ensure that they can spend time with all their friends, regardless of race

Extracurricular Activities
• Not all schools are diverse. A wonderful way to expose your child to diversity is to enroll them in sports, drama or other clubs that allow children from different neighborhoods to interact. 

Attend Cultural Events 
• Communities often have several cultural events throughout the year that are open to, and typically free, to everyone. 
Seattle Center has a diverse range of cultural event including festivals celebrating cultures such as: Brazilian, Arab, Tibetan and Hawaiian.

Expose Children to Diverse Characters
• Representation is important! Read books with racially and ethnically diverse characters
• Ensure that the books are culturally responsive and positive; the characters should be doing everyday things!

Imagine Children’s Museum Celebrate Our World
Imagine’s Art Studio celebrates a different country or culture the first Saturday of every month. Visit  https://www.imaginecm.org/programs-camps-events/celebrate-our-world/to learn more. 

“It is time for parents to teach young people that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

Sensory Processing

Sensory Processing: What is it and how can we Support it?

Written by: Rachele Gentry

Bright lights, loud conversations, kids crying … public spaces can be overwhelming for everyone, especially those with sensory processing sensitives. 

What is sensory processing?
Sensory processing is how our nervous system understands and organizes the details in the environment around us. For some people, their nervous system responds differently to certain stimuli, and may create an over- or under-sensitive response to everyday events in their environment. Common situations might include having an intense response to a loud noise, feeling agitated by the way clothing touches the skin and having adverse reactions to textures of specific foods. 

Many people attribute difficulty in loud and overwhelming environments as a symptom of Autism. While most individuals with Autism do experience sensory processing difficulties, processing differences and difficulties can affect anyone. 

Coping Strategies for Those with Sensory Processing Difficulties
Create a chill out zone; a quiet and organized space for a child to go to when things are too overwhelming. This space may include: 
  ◦ Low lighting
  ◦ Favorite books
  ◦ Noise cancelling headphones
  ◦ Weighted blanket

Allow your child to wear noise cancelling headphones in public 
  ◦ Reduces sound input significantly 
  ◦ Decreases overstimulation of one major sense 

Eliminate the use of fluorescent lights
  ◦ You may not even notice, but these bright lights produce a low-tone buzzing noise, which can be overstimulating 
  ◦ The intensity of the lights can be overwhelming

Allow people to make their own choices
Some people may need or prefer a specific diet to reduce adverse reactions
  ◦ It may be beneficial for someone to have the option to move freely through public spaces, rather than the rigid structures seen in public settings (classrooms, movie theaters, restaurants)

Community Resources
Imagine Museum’s Imagine the Possibilities: Sensory Time
• On the 3rd Sunday of every month, Imagine Children’s Museum provides sensory time for those who need it.
• This is a FREE event for children ages 1-12 (parents, siblings, and grandparents can join too!)
• The museum is only open during this time for these children and their families, making it less crowded and quieter.
• Noise canceling headphones, sunglasses, and sensory balls are available.

Sensory Friendly Films
The theater chain AMC provides a Sensory Family Films program the second and fourth Saturday of every month.
• Enjoy hit new movies such as Aladdin and The Secret Life of Pets 2 at a lower volume and in a less dark environment.
• Attendees are invited to get up, dance and walk around the theater during the showing.

When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Alexander den Heijer